Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Potato-Focused Restaurant Planned For Historic Schlitz Tavern

Potato Heads will open at 27th and Lisbon.

By - May 23rd, 2023 04:07 pm
2700-2702 W. Lisbon Ave. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

2700-2702 W. Lisbon Ave. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The owner of the Potato Heads food truck plans to open a brick-and-mortar establishment in a former Schlitz tavern.

James Ferguson is proposing to buy the two-story, city-owned building at 2700-2702 W. Lisbon Ave.

“I am trying to expand into a restaurant,” he told the Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee Tuesday morning. The building would serve as a home base for his food truck as well as a small, sit-down restaurant and takeout counter. “The capacity would probably be no more than eight.”

The two-story, 3,834-square-foot structure is currently configured as having a commercial space on its first floor and a three-bedroom apartment upstairs. For most of the past two decades, it housed Dep’s Hall of Fades, a barbershop. Ferguson would use the upstairs for storage and an office while adding a commercial kitchen and dining space to the first floor.

“Right now, we sell a lot of surf-and-turf potatoes, steak and shrimp potatoes, chicken bacon ranch, Philly cheesesteak potatoes; we also sell burgers, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, chicken wings, chicken sandwiches,” said Ferguson, using what committee chair Alderman Michael Murphy called a chance for free advertising to promote his business.

A Department of City Development (DCD) report says Ferguson also intends to offer a handful of bodega-like products, including breakfast sandwiches and other food items.

Potato Heads would not offer any liquor. “My hours of operation would probably be only 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.,” he said.

“We look forward to you coming to the district and being part of the community,” said area Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II.

Ferguson was one of several bidders for the property. “Your proposal was the best and most professional,” said Stamper.

The committee unanimously endorsed the proposed sale. The full Common Council is expected to vote on the proposal on May 31.

Ferguson would pay $18,750 for the property and invest approximately $70,000 in rehabilitating the building. He is working with DCD’s Commercial Corridor Team and could utilize the team’s grant programs, including white box and facade grants, to prepare the space.

The brick structure was built in 1907 as a tied-house tavern affiliated with the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company.

The city acquired the building via property tax foreclosure in 2020 from Darrell Pate, who operated the barbershop. It was assessed for $93,500 at the time. A fire damaged the structure in 2019.

DCD was asking $25,000 for the property, as Urban Milwaukee reported in a well-read January 1 article. The structure, one of several built by Schlitz, has a sister building in Bay View. Ferguson is familiar with the neighborhood. He’s affiliated with a limited liability company that owns the two-story building at 2806-2808 W. Lisbon Ave.

The truck today, according to its license, can be found in the mornings near N. 92nd St. and W. Silver Spring Dr. and in the evenings near W. Burleigh St. and N. 46th St. Its menu is available on DoorDash and you can follow the truck on Instagram.

Potato Heads currently leases commercial kitchen space from Burrito Bueno, 8328 W. Appleton Ave., for its hub of operations.


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Related Legislation: File 230045

One thought on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Potato-Focused Restaurant Planned For Historic Schlitz Tavern”

  1. ZeeManMke says:

    Potatoes! I can’t wait. I love potatoes. Yum!

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